That's Incredible

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My Dad was on That's Incredible, a proto-reality TV show back in the 80s.

Interesting point: My memory of this is from when I was very young. I remember holding my mother's hand when it happened, and I distinctly remember someone asking me about it in grade school. However, the Wikipedia article I linked to above says that the show That's Incredible! aired from 1980-1984, so I would have been in Middle School. I guess it could have happened in the first two season, I would have still been in grade school then.

Any, there is a spring festival in my home town of Charlottesville, VA called the dogwood festival. Back then it was held in McIntire Park. It was your usual local festival with small amusement rides and the typical carny booths. Of course, they paled in comparison to the old jet fighter.

That year, there was a military sky diving team performing, I think it was the Army's Golden Knights. Everyone is looking up, watching them jump out of the plane. Their chutes open, all except for one guy. That guys keeps falling, and he keeps falling, and it becomes pretty clear that there is something wrong with his chute. His chute never opened, nor did any back up parachute he may have had.

I have this very surreal memory of the event that is just seared into my mind. I'm watching him fall, and I keep watching him fall, my vision panning down to track him. Eventually he disappears behind the woods between McIntire Park and Charlottesville High School. My vision keeps panning down, and when it reaches ground level, everyone is running away from me, towards the woods.

The guy did not land at the high school. He landed just beyond the high school, in the Greenbrier neighborhood where I grew up. In fact, he landed two or three blocks from my house (two back then, three now). I believe it was in this yard My dad was not the first person to reach the yard he landed in, but he was the first doctor to arrive on the scene.

The paratrooper actually lived, and even went sky diving the day after he got out of the hospital. They did a segment on That's Incredible! about it (it was kind of incredible), and as part of that segment they interviewed my dad. If I remember correctly, he used the word "accordion" during the interview.